The County Legislature on Tuesday delayed its vote on the proposed “Bring Your Own Bag Act,” which would ban plastic shopping bags for most applications in the county. Legislators decided at the last minute to conduct a State Environmental Quality Review Act environmental impact assessment for the legislation. That will add an extra month to the process, according to the bill’s sponsor, Legislator Tracey Bartels.
“It’s questionable whether or not it’s needed but I feel like I want to cover all bases,” said Bartels, D-Gardiner. “We sent it back to committee and I’ll be filing with the clerk the findings of the Environmental Committee over three years and hand it over to SEQR. We’ve analyzed and looked at [similar] legislation across the nation.”
Rather than taxing plastic bags, the law would ban them outright; in May, Bartels said that the Legislation’s Environment and Energy Committee’s research of bans enacted elsewhere showed prohibition was more effective at reducing plastic waste.
Should the bill become law, business owners will be given ample time between the passing of the local law and the implementation date, eyed for Earth Day 2019, to phase out their currently stocked plastic bags. Fines for violating the law would range from a $100 fine on the first offense to a $500 fine on the third and subsequent offense.